The protocol concerning the property rights of the Estonian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchy was signed yesterday in Tallinn. According to it, the state passes to the church 18 church buildings for a term of 50 years for a symbolic amount. The protocol was signed by Ain Seppik, Estonian Minister of Interior, and Kornili, Metropolitan of Tallinn and All Estonia.
According to Nikolai Balashov, Secretary of the Department of the Church's External Connections responsible for relations with other Orthodox churches, the 14 church and 4 parish buildings on the list were previously used by the Estonian Orthodox Church but ordered by a court decision dated September 14, 1993, to be passed to the Orthodox Church of the Constantinople Patriarchy. After long negotiations that church rejected its right to appropriate the buildings and returned the 5 buildings it had already occupied back to the state.
The Estonian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchy will continue using the buildings but from now on legally. After the 9-year-long negotiations concerning the legal registering of the church , finally, a step in the right direction has been made, the right of Christian Orthodox believers upheld.
According to the Holy Synod of Russian Orthodox Church, the complete resolution of this issue is possible under the Zurich Agreement, which was approved by the synods of the Moscow and Constantinople Patriarchies in 1996. According to this, still unrealized, agreement, all Orthodox believers in Estonia must enjoy equal rights, including property rights. The achieving of such equality was expected after the signing of an agreement that resulted from negotiations between delegations from Moscow and Constantinople patriarchies in 2001. However, the Constantinople Patriarchy has not yet ratified the agreement, which was the reason Moscow Patriarchy twice already expressed its regrets.